BUSINESS owners in Alloa are championing a major campaign urging people to think local first to fuel Scotland's recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

They have stepped on to the frontline of promoting Scotland Loves Local, issuing a rallying cry for communities to support traders in their town centres.

As part of the Scotland Loves Local campaign – spearheaded by Scotland's Towns Partnership with the support of the Scottish Government – the Alloa businesses will feature prominently in a multi-media push for people to turn to traders close to home before travelling further afield or going straight to online retail giants.

Saeed Anwar, who has run Flowers By Arrangement on Mill Street for 15 years, is among the independent business owners supporting the drive.

He said: "It's important for people to shop local to protect jobs. That support is vital for us to flourish."

Jill Conlon, of Newfangled Design at the foot of High Street, believes local businesses are vital for a vibrant community and said: "If people shop local, the money stays local."

She added: "Every pound that's spent in a small local shop will go towards something else that's local.

"For instance, the money people spend here I use to go to the Ladybird Tearoom. Alison there will go to Anna's Larder and buy Vilma's strawberries. Vilma uses local produce.

"It pays for my kids' judo lessons, haircuts, meeting friends for coffee. It's a cross-pollination. If you don't support one business, it's devastating for others."

This is a point echoed by Liz Hatrick, who owns Alloa Picture Framing on Primrose Street where she has worked for 28 years, the last 18 as owner.

"Without the support of the community we wouldn't be here. Times are tough for everyone," she explained.

At Bar Aldo's in Coalgate, a takeaway operation has been added to the family restaurant as well as supplying pasta kits for home-cooking, accompanied by online videos.

Owner Aldo Pia, who runs the business with wife Fiorinda, son Giovanni and daughter Sabrina, is proud of the part that they have played in the community.

Aldo said: "The public in Alloa have supported us and I can't thank them enough for that. It's been a fantastic two-way thing.

"Being part of the community is what gets me up in the morning. This virus is like a war – and I feel quite proud of how our customers have supported us.

"It's important we try to support each other through these times so we can come out of this together."

John Stephen brings fish overnight from Peterhead to his shop, the Fresh Fish Place on High Street, and is in no doubt about how critical local support is.

"The support of the community here in Alloa is so vital," he said. "Without that we have no business. It's as simple as that.

"All of the supermarkets are here, but we need people to support the local businesses as well. No-one can beat our quality and brilliant customer service."

Being a trusted local business has been an important factor for Hilary Lawlor, of Hils Holistic Skincare on Primrose Street.

Of her return as it became safe to reopen, she said: "Everyone was desperate to get their self-esteem boosted after months of a lot of mental energy being drained and anxiety.

"I knew my customers were going to trust me. I was counting on that continuing."